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Saturday, June 4, 2022

Todd Boehly can save millions and solve Jorginho problem with midfielder Thomas Tuchel loves

  Billy Gilmour was always going to have to prove himself again at Chelsea. It was simply a matter of when. That's life for a player ...

 

Billy Gilmour was always going to have to prove himself again at Chelsea. It was simply a matter of when. That's life for a player at a top club: there will always be pressure and expectation to live up to, doubters to convert into believers, and difficult periods to overcome.

That's certainly what the 2021/22 campaign was for Gilmour . He spent it on loan at Norwich City and struggled to have a major influence on performances as the Canaries became embroiled in yet another unsuccessful battle against relegation. That the 20-year-old became a scapegoat for the team's struggles was unfair, but it was character-forming.

"Yeah, it's been a tough season personally, but a lot of experience made," said the Chelsea academy graduate this week while on international duty with Scotland, who failed to secure their place at this year's World Cup after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Ukraine at Hampden Park.

Gilmour started the game but didn't finish it – another painful experience to overcome. Fortunately, there is plenty of support for the Chelsea academy graduate within the Scotland squad. The reason why is obvious: Gilmour is a player destined to have a career at the top level.

"It's clear to see Billy is, and is going to be a top, top player," said defender Grany Hanley, who spent the season with Gilmour at Norwich. "Obviously, he was involved in a team that got relegated, so he will naturally be disappointed.

"But in football, as in general life, if you have a setback or go through a tough period, you learn from that. When Billy learns from that, he will come back a better player. There is no doubt in my mind he will be a top player. You see that in his performances."

There was a similar message from Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor. "Everybody has difficult spells," he said.

"With Billy, because everyone hyped him so highly at the start, it's inevitable he's going to have a dip in form at some point. That's normal. It's natural for young players."


It was Gilmour himself who set the bar so high. His early performances in the Chelsea side were so polished, so impressive, that there was a belief he was the finished article. That was never the case – and still isn't. There is much he can improve upon and plenty of experience to be gained.

"There is definitely talent there, no doubt," says Norwich City reporter for Norfolk Live Michael Mutch . "We've all seen it, and we all waxed lyrical before he made his move to Norwich. We saw glimpses of it at Carrow Road, but it felt like we didn't see enough. That may be largely down to the fact that, as a collective, Norwich were not good enough throughout the season.

"Statistically, Gilmour was one of the better players on the ball, and nobody can question his ability or confidence with it. Defensively, he probably needs more work. Norwich needed greater protection in front of their back line – 84 goals conceded in 38 games proves that, and Gilmour was not the answer."

What comes next for the Chelsea academy graduate is unclear. Thomas Tuchel wanted Gilmour to showcase why he deserved a place in the Blues squad while at Norwich, something which didn't happen.

"I love Billy in general, I always loved him," said Tuchel last October. "He decided to go to get some minutes, and that is important, but first of all, I want him to perform. How you make it in our team is by pure performance. If you decide to go on a loan, it is as simple as that. I don't think it's harsh, you need to perform. You need to be on the pitch, to be the top player no matter where you go."


However, Tuchel is a known admirer of Gilmour's talents, and space should open up in the Chelsea midfield this summer: Saul Niguez's loan move is not being made permanent; Ross Barkley is allowed to leave Stamford Bridge; Jorginho could depart if Juventus firm up their interest and submit an acceptable bid.

Conor Gallagher will admittedly be incorporated into the first-team squad after holding positive a conversation with Tuchel following his loan at Crystal Palace, but there would still be room for Gilmour if required. And there is little doubt he has the ability to step up. He has already proved as much in a Chelsea shirt.

The other option is, of course, a second loan – and this time at a club that would allow Gilmour's talents to flourish. Everton, coached by Frank Lampard, who handed Gilmour his debut at Chelsea, has been mooted as a potential destination should the Blues decide that Gilmour needs another season away.

Things can change very quickly in football; Gilmour has discovered that firsthand over the past twelve months. Prior to his Norwich loan, he was viewed by many as the future of Chelsea's midfield.

Now he has become a wildcard choice for Tuchel heading into pre-season. Yet the young midfielder has defied convention wisdom before, and it would be wrong to bet against him doing so again.

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